Sexual Behavior and Responsiveness to Sexual Stimuli Following Laboratory-Induced Sexual Arousal
Both, Stephanie, Spiering, Mark, Everaerd, Walter, Laan, Ellen, The Journal of Sex Research
Emotion can be construed as fundamentally an action disposition, a tendency to do something (Frijda, 1986; Lang, 1993). In this view emotions serve the satisfaction of goals and generate relevant action (such as fight-flight or approach). Sexual excitement, in this respect, does not deviate from other emotions: It serves to satisfy concerns and generates a tendency for sexual behavior (Everaerd, Laan, Both, & Spiering, 2001). From this viewpoint it follows that sexual excitement should incorporate sexual action tendencies and sexual action. To test this prediction, we investigated men's and women's sexual behavior following laboratory induced sexual excitement.
Laboratory studies on human sexual responses generally include measures of genital arousal and subjective sexual arousal. Overt sexual behavior is seldom measured. However, sexual activity may be a relevant variable to investigate in laboratory studies about sexual motivation. Incentive behavior consists of appetitive and consummatory responses and generally proceeds from the appetitive phase to the consummatory phase (Pfaus, 1999). Measuring appetitive and consummatory sexual behavior following laboratory visits offers the opportunity to study the relationship between physiological sexual arousal, subjectively experienced sexual arousal, and overt sexual activity in men and women. The inclusion of measures of overt sexual behavior in laboratory studies will provide a more complete picture of the generation of sexual action.
Incentive motivation theories state that approach behavior will be activated by appropriate incentives (Agmo, 1999; Bindra, 1974; Singer & Toates, 1987). Bindra (1974) introduced the concept of a central motive state, "a hypothetical set of neural processes that promote goal directed actions in relation to particular classes of incentive stimuli, for example, it promotes food seeking and eating in relation to food, or defensive fighting and escape in relation to a predator" (p. 201). An incentive, it is supposed, guides response selection through the excitatory or priming influence of the central motive state on somato-visceral reactions, consummatory acts, and locomotor and skilled actions. Frijda (1986), in line with Bindra, defines motivation as the elicitation of behavior systems by appropriate external stimuli or thoughts thereof. A behavior system is described as a potential action (a program) or a sequence of potential actions. With respect to sexual responses, this means that sexual motivation and the accompanying feeling of sexual desire arise when an individual interacts with appropriate sexual stimuli or thoughts thereof. Thus, in contrast to the layman's belief that sexual desire is spontaneous and arises "out of the blue," sexual desire is the outcome of the processing of sexual stimuli, although it may be felt and perceived as spontaneous (Basson, 2002; Everaerd et al., 2001).
Interaction with an incentive changes the affective state of an organism. Bindra (1974) already pointed to the similarity of motivational and emotional states. Action tendencies manifest themselves in various emotional response systems, including physiological change, emotional expression, and motivated behavior (Frijda, 1986; Lang, 1993). In addition, incentive motivation models state that motivation is the result of the interaction of the internal state of the organism and relevant stimuli in the environment. The internal state of the organism, like hormonal or other somatic factors and past experience, modulates the responsiveness to external cues. It may be expected that exposure to sexual stimuli can enhance responsiveness to subsequent sexual cues by modulating the internal state. Confrontation with a positive incentive results in activation of reward circuitry in the brain (Aharon et al., 2001; Kampe, Frith, Dolan, & Frith, 2001; Schultz, 1998, 2001). Activation of reward circuitry may result in an increase of …
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Publication information: Article title: Sexual Behavior and Responsiveness to Sexual Stimuli Following Laboratory-Induced Sexual Arousal. Contributors: Both, Stephanie - Author, Spiering, Mark - Author, Everaerd, Walter - Author, Laan, Ellen - Author. Journal title: The Journal of Sex Research. Volume: 41. Issue: 3 Publication date: August 2004. Page number: 242+. © 2007 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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